‘It’s like having a child addicted to drugs:’ Doctors warn that Fortnite has caused children to smash up cars, stop eating and pushed parents to divorce
- Popular video game is causing children and teens to drop out of social activities
- Fortnite is played by 200 million users worldwide but is costing children sleep
- Behavioural specialists say that some are even battling a gaming addiction
- In some cases teenagers are losing so much weight because they refuse to stop playing , according to doctors and psychiatrists
Health professionals have spoken out about the impact playing Fortnite has on children – likening its addictive nature to that of hard drugs.
Played by more than 200 million users, the cartoon multiplayer shooter game is costing children sleep, their school work and causing them to become violent.
The latest instalment of the popular video game Fortnite: Battle Royale is seeing children drop out of social activities like playing sport.
Behavioural specialists say that some children are even battling gaming addiction as a result from constantly playing the game.
Health professionals have spoken out about the impact playing Fortnite has on children likening it to them being addicted to drugs. The latest installment of the popular video game Fortnite: Battle Royale is seeing children drop out of social activities like playing sport
Michael Rich, a director of the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital, told the Boston Globe about its impact.
‘They are not sleeping. They are not going to school. They are dropping out of social activities. A lot of kids have stopped playing sports so they can do this,’ he said.
‘We have one kid who destroyed the family car because he thought his parents had locked his device inside,’ Mr Rich said. ‘He took a hammer to the windshield.’
His account is just one of many that describe an obsession so intense that kids are seeing doctors and therapists to break the game’s hold over their children.
In some cases teenagers are losing so much weight because they refuse to stop playing to eat that doctors initially think they have a physical disease.
‘One of the parents will get to the point of almost considering a divorce,’ Rich Domenico, a therapist with LiveWell Therapy Associates, in the Back Bay told the publication.
‘It’s similar to working with parents who have a child addicted to drugs.’
Played by more than 200 million users, the cartoon multiplayer shooter game is costing children sleep, their school work and causing them to become violent. Behavioural specialists say that some children are even battling gaming addiction as a result from constantly playing the game
Parents fretting over their children spending too much time online isn’t new but there are significant factors that make these games harder to stop playing.
Advances in technology has made the games more interactive and more engaging with its flashy colours and the element of social interaction with other players.
‘The psychological manipulation stimulates the brain and trains it to ‘crave’ more, said Douglas Gentile, a psychology professor wrote in an e-mail to the Globe.
The game makers also use shady tactics adopted by slot-machine designers like a variable reward schedule, according to Ofir Turel, a professor of Information Systems and Decision Sciences at California State University Fullerton.
WHAT IS FORTNITE?
Fortnite is a game that originally launched as a disk back in July 2017 and was then turned into a free-to-download game by its developer, Epic Games, in September.
There are three forms of the game: ‘Battle Royale’, ‘Save The World’ and ‘Playground’.
Save the world is the original form of the game and is currently not available to play as part of the free-to-download game, instead it comes as part of a £30 ($40) extra.
It is a co-op mode with a story that’s playable solo or online with friends.
Fortnite is a battle royale-style survival shooter where players create a superhero avatar and compete against each other on a dystopian island
Users compete in teams of up to three to complete a variety of missions.
It is rumoured that the game will be added to the free-to-play version of the game in the future.
Whilst Save The World may be the original version of the game, its sister mode is by far the most popular.
Battle Royale is a game of survival where players create a superhero avatar and compete against each other on a dystopian island.
Each game, or ‘match’ as each competition is known, starts with 100 players.
The aim of the game is to be the last one standing. Users can form allegiances and play in small groups.
To enable this and the interactive experience, the game allows completely open communication between players.
Inspired by the Hunger Games novels and films, gamers search for weapons to help them survive.
Armed with quirky weapons and amusing dances, the game has swept across the gaming world, with children flocking to it.
While there is no exact figure on how many children play Fortnite, the game has so far pulled in an audience of over 125 million players.
Playground is the latest addition to the game and is a consequence free mode with more loot and unlimited respawning to allow players to get creative.
It involved groups of up to four people working as a team and the players can hone their skills as the practise in advance of entering Battle Royale where they will face better players.
‘Kids are especially vulnerable to this ‘variable-reward’ mechanism because their brains are still imbalanced,’ he explained. ‘They have almost fully developed reward processing brain systems but their self-control systems are not yet fully developed.’
The Epic Games Inc. creation is free to play yet it has made at least $1.2 billion (£914 mn) on the sale of the V-Bucks, the in-game currency.
More than 68 per cent of players make in-game purchases like weapons, dance moves, and adornments to personalise their characters.
The average player who makes purchases has spent $84.67, according to a 2018 survey.